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Shadab declared fit for World Cup


SHADAB Khan ... key player for the World Cup.
SHADAB Khan ... key player for the World Cup.

LAHORE: Shadab Khan has been declared fit for Pakistan’s World Cup campaign after blood tests showed zero viral load, the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced on Tuesday.

The 20-year-old leg-spinner will now leave for London on Thursday where he will consult Dr Patrick Kennedy on Friday, before joining the team in Bristol on Monday.

Shadab was named in the original 15-member World Cup squad on April 18 but was ruled out of one Twenty20 and the ongoing five-match One-day International series against England after he fell ill last month.

On 26 April, the PCB had set-up Shadab’s appointment with Dr Kennedy, a world-renowned gastroenterologist and hepatologist with specialisation in liver diseases in elite sportsmen, who had put him on medication and advised two weeks of complete rest.

Shadab’s availability for warm-up matches against Afghanistan and Bangladesh on May 24 and 26 respectively is subject to fitness tests.

“Shadab’s appearances in the World Cup warm-up matches are subject to his fitness and the team management’s decision,” the PCB said.

Shadab was replaced for the England series by leg-spinner Yasir Shah, but he was the only specialist in Pakistan’s 15-man World Cup squad. He was in the Pakistan squad which won the Champions Trophy in 2017 in England.

All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez is the other spin option with Shoaib Malik. But Hafeez is also recovering from a finger injury he sustained during the Pakistan Super League, and has yet to play in the ODI series against England.

“I am delighted to know that the blood tests are negative and I can now return to competitive cricket. I was always very confident that I would fully recover from the viral infection and will be available for the World Cup,” Shadab said in a statement.

“Having played and won the ICC Champions Trophy, I understand the importance, flavour and glamour of global events and what success in such events mean to the players and the public. I am looking forward to featuring in the World Cup and will leave no stone unturned in helping Pakistan put up a strong show.

“It has been difficult to stay away from international cricket and watch Pakistan play outstandingly — both in Cardiff and Southampton. As a professional cricketer, you want to be part of such games. In both the matches, Pakistan have shown their capability and ability, and I am sure with some fine tuning, we will be ready to take on the world.”

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur remains hopeful that the all-rounder will regain full fitness ahead of their World Cup opener against West Indies in Nottingham on May 31.

“It is fabulous news and on behalf of the Pakistan cricket team, I look forward to welcoming Shadab back in the squad. Shadab is one of the finest of his generation and is an influential figure in the team. His presence in the dressing room and on the field of play keeps the side geared up and motivated,” Arthur said.

“Shadab’s inclusion also balances what is a young but extremely talented squad. I understand it will take Shadab some time to be back at his brilliant best as he has not played cricket for a few weeks, but our first game is on 31 May and he has got two weeks to regain complete form and fitness.

“He is a brave lad and the way he has fought back to regain fitness is a testament to his attitude and approach, which gives us the encouragement that he will be hopefully available for selection for our World Cup opener.”

PCB Managing Director Wasim Khan said: “The PCB also had a duty of care towards Shadab and that’s precisely why we went for the best specialist in England. So, from that perspective, we are all very happy that he has received a clean chit and can resume normal cricket activities.”—Agencies

Published in Dawn, May 15th, 2019